Commissioned Corps Officers’ Passion for Service Never Sleeps

September 17, 2014


CAPT Patrick Denis

All Commissioned Corps officers share common goals: to uphold the Corps’ mission to protect, promote, and advance the health and safety of our Nation and to personify the four Core Values of the service – Leadership, Service, Integrity, and Excellence. The Corps defines Service as “Demonstrating a commitment to public health through compassionate actions and stewardship of time, resources, and talents.”

Though every Commissioned Corps officer embodies service, the way that this trait is displayed is unique to each individual. “I see service all around,” says CAPT Patrick Denis, Deputy Director for the Division of the Civilian Volunteer Medical Reserve Corps in the Office of the Surgeon General. “I’ve seen officers dedicate their time to developing new officers by serving as a mentor or a coach. I know of officers who have stopped on the side of the road and who have gone into harm’s way to provide basic comfort to someone during a car crash.”

CAPT Denis has taught at the Commissioned Corps’ Officer Basic Course as a senior adjunct faculty member since its pilot program in May 2007 and has had the opportunity to watch new officers adopt the USPHS mission and its core values. In fact, many of these individuals recognized their calling for service prior to OBC and sought out the Corps as a result. In a survey of new officers who participated in this course from 2009 – 2013, almost all officers cited a passion for serving their country as a top motivator for joining the Commissioned Corps.


CDR Brooke Wallace

“I was out of the Army and I realized I still very much wanted to be in uniform and I still really wanted to work with service members,” says CDR Brooke Wallace, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) serving with the Air Force under the DoD-USPHS Partnership for Psychological Health. “The Commissioned Corps was a great fit for me because I could still serve my country and work with this population.”

By proudly wearing the USPHS uniform, Corps officers display a profound respect for their country and service. “The way that officers wear their uniform and how they project their professional engagement while in uniform exemplifies service,” says CAPT Denis. “It’s a symbol to anyone that sees them in uniform that they’ve made a conscious decision to serve their Nation, to serve their agency and to serve the Department of Health and Human Services.”

According to CAPT Denis, service is a calling and a lifestyle that never stops – even when they’re not in uniform. “Service is a fabric of all the other core values,” says CAPT Denis. “You have to serve for the greater good, not serve for your individual benefit.”